Ads for menstrual belts and pads, Australia, about 1900
At least one of the two advertisements below are from a birth-control
publication in Australia, probably printed around 1900 or slightly
before. The Australian government prosecuted the "Wife's Guide and
Friend" for being obscene because it advertised contraceptives and
contained birth control information. Some visitors to this site will know
what happened to Margaret Sanger in the United States a few years later.
Thank you very much to the Royal Australian
College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Melbourne, which owns
the original of the first illustration, and to the Royal
Australasian College of Physicians, Sydney, which owns the second.
The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney kindly gave
MUM photocopies of parts of both publications.
And many thanks to Megan Hicks of the Powerhouse
Museum, Australia's largest museum, for her interest, commentary and help!
Above: This ad is from a short booklet which appears to be a reprint
of the second half of "The Wife's Guide and Friend" (from which
the ad below comes). In a testimonial on the opposite page, a woman refers
favorably to the belt as a "diaper,"
a term not exactly in favor today.
The advertising copy is as glowing as advertising copy ever has been.
Some things never change.
Original owned by the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and
"The Wife's Guide and Friend," which originally appeared in
the 1890s in Australia, contained this ad, at least in a later edition.
The belt could hold a "sponge, cloth, cotton-wool, or any absorbing
material," including what was advertised on the opposite page: "cotton-wool,
medicated with an antiseptic," and disposable. Antiseptic? "[It]
makes them perfectly free from any unpleasantness if not destroyed immediately
after use. This is of great value to ladies when travelling." Traveling
has been a persistent issue with menstruating women (see the 1914
Original owned by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Sydney,
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